Zero Dark Manny
2018 started off rocky without a doubt. I wasn’t motivated, I gave up on a lot of things, but I also set a few non-negotiable goals for myself. I was stuck in the house against my will on New Year’s Eve watching Telemundo’s ball drop special with my folks. 12 am on January 1 is usually when I make my escape, but this year was different. I had nowhere to go, no plans, and honestly – no will to get out of my bed. So I brought in 2018 in my bed, watching Netflix and selfishly downing a six-pack of craft beer.
The vibe was way more depressing than hopeful. What made it worse, is that the next morning I was scrolling through my multiple timelines seeing friends and acquaintances bringing in 2018 with cheers and memories. FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) doesn’t even begin to explain the anxiety that crept up on me. So, being the rash person I am, I decided to delete all my social media apps. I said bye bye to Twitter, Facebook (that one didn’t hurt as much), Instagram, and Snapchat. I went Zero Dark Manny.
Besides a brief relapse on Wakanda Day (the day I got hammered to go watch Black Panther), I was completely removed from the social media world. It was very hard at first, but then once I found my groove and new things to keep my brain working, my feelings changed.
Consensus: it was the most focused and liberated three and a half months of my life.
Redirecting wasted minutes on scrolling down timelines towards more productive activities greatly improved my emotional intelligence, self-awareness, and my personal relationships.
First and foremost, my productivity skyrocketed. I was a machine at work mainly because I was on a rigid schedule: breakfast, Hulu/Netflix, work, gym, writing/reading. Every minute spent outside of allotted “lounge/me” time pre and post work was put to good use. I wasn’t worried about the next hashtag or the song everyone was lip-syncing on their selfie camera. This new way of approaching my day came in handy as a promotion hit my desk on January 15th, an awesome day to get promoted if you ask me. Work since then has had me in a whirlwind of stress and emotional reward. Being back in a leadership role for a company that has done so much for me makes a lot of what I deal with worth it. I have the wonderful opportunity to train, coach, and motivate those around me. Besides writing for a living I can’t see myself doing anything else for now so I am definitely happy. Funny enough, I was recently presented for a new opportunity to cross train for the recruiting department and lend my ear and expertise to the hiring process.
Outside of work I was happy to finally flex my brain muscle. I took up my reading list and started with books strictly about the art of writing. Call me a cornball, but I want to eventually reach a point in my life where I can write and not have to worry about things like spell check, thesauruses, and grammar correction software- extensively at least.
Because Bukowski, Chekhov, Hemingway, and one of my biggest inspirations – the fictional Hank Moody, didn’t have these things when typing on their typewriters. They knew the craft in and out. So I wanted to up my game and become even more familiar with everything from the basics of grammar and punctuation, sentence structure, plot structure, and more. While I was actively learning, I was putting these lessons into practice. I took a dive into great literary manuals such as Strunk’s Elements of Style, Truss’ Eats, Shoots, and Leaves, Packard’s Art of Screenwriting, Prose’s Reading Like a Writer, and my current addiction Pinker’s Sense of Style. Thanks to these, my grasp on the art of writing has evolved. With the tools given to me from these classic how-to’s, I managed to stockpile ideas for My Never Ending Sitcom, have some personal short stories started and/or finished, and I finally took a crack at screenwriting. From what I learned reading these books, I was able to dive into my ideas and bring them to life on my MacBook.
While off the grid, I found myself less stressed about what was going on in our not-so-perfect world. I remember scrolling through my timeline every morning and either rolling my eyes or clutching my head heavily because of the injustices going on around us. While it is important to stay up to date on things, I needed a break. I couldn’t keep starting my days to another one of my fellow African American brothers and sisters robbed of their life. I couldn’t keep starting my days to find out Trump got away with some more dumb shit. I couldn’t stand checking my timeline and seeing another instance of racism go viral because of how disgusting and “unbelievable” it is. I was sick and tired of hearing about another family torn apart because of pieces of paper deeming them “legal.” So yeah, my inner peace came to the forefront of my priorities at the beginning of 2018. Besides the occasional Top 10 plays from ESPN, the news fell into the background as my current focus was and still is my happiness. It was also cool to find out about trends and news by word of mouth. Giving things a bit of time to marinate before diving in has a more exquisite sense of satisfaction, in my opinion at least.
During my blackout from all things social media, I was also able to learn about my relationships with people. A lot of people count on social media for communication, whether significant or not. Well, what if you cut out irrelevant and meaningless communication with others and replaced it with only meaningful interactions with people who actually care to learn about you and what you have to say? Think about how many people have access to any one of your many (@) handles. They can access you at any point that they desire. Now think about how many people have your number, and how many of those people you communicate with on a regular basis? You gain much more value from a small group of meaningful conversations with those who matter to you versus a long string of light banter and half-assed “me too’s” on the web. Quality over quantity is essentially what I am getting at here, folks. After a few weeks of silence on the stage that we call our TL’s, few people hit me up making sure I was ok. To me, this meant our relationship was of value to them. That’s more important than a retweet, right?
The seemingly massive amount of time I now had at my disposal was put to better use without a doubt. I was able to learn new things about life, my relationships, and myself. Although I am back to my occasional posts about what I am listening to on my morning commutes or retweets of dope articles – I now handle social media with care. By which I mean in moderation at best, because why worry about an imaginary world where likes and retweets dictate importance when really – there is so much more out there. Shifting these little increments of time from scrolling down your phone to other aspects of ourselves, like our passions and beliefs, can lead to an enlightening realization of what you can really be capable of.
Till next time.
Underpromising and overdelivering,